The San Jose Sharks finished a promising first month with a winning road trip. They return home for the first time in nearly two weeks Thursday to face the inconsistent New York Rangers.
San Jose went 3-2 on an East Coast trip, its longest stretch away from home until an eight-game trip in February. The Sharks finished with nine wins in 13 games in October, including a 4-1 record at home.
They won the last two games of the trip, beating Tampa Bay 4-2 and Florida 2-1. Against the Panthers on Tuesday night, Christian Ehrhoff scored a power-play goal with 35.8 seconds remaining to lift San Jose to victory.
The Sharks (9-4-0) have scored a power-play goal in five straight games and are converting a league-high 27.5 percent of their opportunities.
"We take a lot of pride in our special teams," San Jose coach Ron Wilson said. "I wasn't sure we would get a power-play goal, but we were finishing hard. It's nice that we finally got a puck through to the net.
Joe Thornton also scored for San Jose and has five points in the last three games.
"We were kind of flat the first two periods, I don't know why," said Thornton, who scored his first two goals of the season in the last two contests. "Then we were starting the power play with the fresh ice in the third period and we were kind of excited."
Thornton has 26 points in 24 games against the Rangers. He's recorded at least one point in five straight games against New York and in 13 of his last 14.
This is the first meeting between San Jose and New York since Oct. 18, 2003, when the teams played to a 2-all tie, a result that can no longer happen in the NHL. The Sharks have only four wins in 23 all-time meetings with the Rangers, and none since Oct. 22, 2001.
Thursday's contest marks the end of a four-game West Coast swing for the Rangers (6-6-0), who have alternated wins and losses their last eight games.
"There is a lot of pressure on the team," said Jaromir Jagr, who leads the NHL with 16 assists and 20 points and finished runner-up to Thornton for the league scoring title last season. "Everybody thinks we have a lot better team than we had last year, and we're still at .500. We have a lot better players than our record shows. Hopefully, this will give us confidence, but we don't want to be overconfident."
New York is 2-1 on the trip so far after beating Anaheim 4-3 in overtime Wednesday. Jagr scored the game-winner and Brendan Shanahan had a goal and two assists for the Rangers.
"Jaromir is in great company, and we're in great company having him and Shanahan as teammates," said goaltender Kevin Weekes, who made 30 saves for his first win of the season. "Those guys continue to do it every day and every night. They want to continue playing not for any other reason than they love to play."
Jagr is five goals shy of 600 for his career, and has 30 points in 22 career games against San Jose. Shanahan, who has 609 career goals, has scored a goal in three straight games and leads the NHL with 11. His next goal will tie him with Bobby Hull for 12th on the all-time list.
The Rangers are currently in a stretch of seven of eight on the road. Their only home game in that time is Saturday against Buffalo, which has yet to lose in regulation in 11 games.